Her Excellency Deaconess Martha Udom Emmanuel
Ever since she became the First lady of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Martha Udom Emmanuel has brought a new layer of engagement associated with the office of the First Lady of Akwa Ibom State. Through her deep Christian and compassionate spirit, her unbridled sense of altruism and an acute appreciation of the inherent faith and belief in the goodness of the human condition, she has used her office to advance the cause of the poor, the sick, the handicapped and the infirmed. She has brought a sunny disposition to the hapless and the forlorn, engendering in the process the belief and hope that there is a bright new day looming in the horizon.
Through the instrumentality of her nationally acclaimed Pet Project: Family Empowerment and Youth Re-orientation Path Initiate (FEYReP), she has amplified loudly and clearly the profoundly inspiring proclamation of the late British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher that “if you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” She is a living testimony of that Thatcherian invocation.
Through FEYReP, she has ignited in our youths a new sense of faith predicated on the Dakkada philosophy which in the main challenges us to tap into the deep well of gifts and talents God Almighty has so generously endowed us with, and use them to rise to the faith of our greatness. She has brought a new set of values in the family unit based on sound moral codes, and an acute understanding of the concept of right and wrong.
Acutely aware of the debilitating menace of early childhood pregnancy and the negative effects such could have on the overall development of the girl child, she has taken up this issue with messianic zeal, winning plaudits and accolades across the national and international space.
Through the “Martha Care for Young Girls” programme under FEYReP, she has provided sexual education to young girls who may otherwise have become vulnerable to early pregnancy and instill in them a sense of self dignity.
Rape; a social menace that has traumatized many young girls is an issue she has handled with unbridled verve. The “Martha Care for Young Girls” is a platform where young girls are taught sex education with the view to making them self-aware and to say no to unsolicited sexual advances by men.
With rampant cases of gender-based violence in Nigeria and Akwa Ibom in particular, FEYReP has partnered United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to set up a GBV call centre in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital where victims are attended to on-the-go. According to the governor’s wife, “We cannot continue to condone the stigma and culture of silence that allows such acts to go unabated and perpetrators to go unpunished.”
Taking cognizance of the societal pressure the boy-child is equally faced with, Mrs. Emmanuel has also inaugurated a Boy-child campaign in state tagged “Bright Future for Responsible Boys.” This is a platform where primary and secondary school boys are mentored against indulging in vices such as cultism, rape, premarital relationship and drug abuse. According to her, “we cannot be raising the girl-child to uphold her dignity while the boy-child is left unattended to, it would imply that our work would be incomplete.”
Her “Shelter of Hope” programme has helped build over 30 houses for widows and other economically disadvantaged men and women. She has further extended her philanthropy to the inmates of Uyo prisons by building an ultra-modern kitchen facility. Also constructed is the State-of-the Art Gallery in memory of her Late mother Professor Stella Idiong in the Faculty of Arts, University of Uyo and as well a primary health care center in memory of her Late father Prince Bernard Sampson Udo-Idiong at Obio Akpa in Oruk Anam Local Government Area.
Fondly called “Eka Unwana” (a Mother who has brought sunshine of hope and fulfillment) she has received several recognitions, honors and awards from both National and International organizations such as the ‘Heart of Champion’ award from the International Human Rights Commission- New York, an ‘Africans Impact Leadership’ award from Center for Economic and Leadership Development in Paris, the Number One Nutrition Champion award from UNICEF, Cultural Ambassador by National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners, Environment Friendly First Lady in Nigeria by the Nigerian Chapter for Conservation Biology (NSCB) University of Uyo, Award of Excellence in Women Development by the Akwa Ibom State University Women Association (AKSUWA), to mention just a few.
Dr. Martha Udom Emmanuel attended the famous Cornelia Connelly College, Uyo when she received her secondary education and later went to the University of Uyo where she obtained her Bachelor Degree in Biochemistry (B.SC. Hons) Determined to expand her academic frontiers, she enrolled for her Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) at the Lagos State University (LASU.) Not satisfied with her quest for knowledge, she attended the School of Oceanography, Lagos, where she bagged a certificate in Aqua-culture. Armed with these qualifications, she delved into aqua-cultural farming and became hugely successful in the business.
In recognition of her substantial contributions to improvements in human social conditions, development of hidden talents with capacity building among the youth without gender bias and feats of philanthropy which have touched many lives positively. The University of Uyo on her 25th Convocation awarded Mrs. Emmanuel an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy of Science Degree in Social and Human Development (Ph.D Honoris Causa).
She is a devout Christian, who was a member of the choir at United Evangelical Church, founded as Qua-Iboe Church, Surulere, Lagos.
Deaconess Martha Udom Emmanuel is happily married to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency, Deacon Udom Emmanuel and is blessed with four lovely children. She enjoys singing gospel songs and dancing.